We’re excited about the additional space that our new North Wing will provide, but the new wing isn’t just about adding much-needed space. It’s also an opportunity to do what we love to do here at The Corning Museum of Glass – pioneer new ways of displaying, exploring, and telling the world about glass.
The unique design of our new contemporary glass gallery – especially with its innovative and sophisticated daylighting system – will set a new standard for the display of contemporary glass. Glass comes alive in light, and the use of daylighting will allow visitors to see the works differently each time they visit.
North Wing architect Thomas Phifer envisions the building as a vitrine (museum speak for “display case”). The building is deliberately ephemeral: the walls, the floor, the ceiling all “fade” into the background, allowing the visitor to focus on the glass.
We carried that philosophy into the design of the artwork display cases. It’s important that the cases we use adequately protect our collection, and equally important that they not interfere with the visitors’ ability to see and experience the works of art.
This past spring, we began working closely with our major benefactor Corning Incorporated along with exhibit designer Kubik Maltbie to explore the use of thin specialty glass for the artwork cases. When we open next March, we’ll be the first museum to use Corning® Gorilla® Glass to enclose our sculptures. Gorilla® Glass is found on 2.7 billion cellphones, tablets, notebooks and other devices. It’s also used in interior architecture (elevator wall panels and lobbies) and automotive applications.
Our new artwork enclosures will be 4.5 mm thick (two pieces of 1.5mm Gorilla® Glass with 1.5 mm layer of laminate in between). The glass is damage resistant, thin and optically pure. The Gorilla® Glass is so transparent it will allow the visitors to really focus on the artwork.
We are also working on a new digital media platform for our new gallery that will feed information to visitors’ personal devices. We see more than 420,000 visitors each year and it’s important that each one of them have the ability to access Wi-Fi. We’re pleased again to work with Corning to be the first museum application of the company’s ONETM Wireless Platform, the first all-optical converged cellular and Wi-fi solution. On the back end, it offers simplified connection. More importantly, it offers virtually unlimited bandwidth to our hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
But that’s not all…Watch this space for details about other ways we plan to innovate in the new space, including new digital offerings to enhance your understanding of works in the gallery and some exciting new programming that will take place in our new 500-seat demonstration space.